Clea DuVall and Melanie Lynskey on “The Intervention” and the legacy of “But I’m a Cheerleader”

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Jamie Babbit‘s But I’m a Cheerleader came out 17 years ago, but the queer-themed indie dark comedy is still a favorite of LGBT women and beyond. Clea DuVall, Melanie Lynskey and Natasha Lyonne had all been in at least a handful of projects before starring together as teen lesbians sent to a conversion therapy camp called True Directions, but their on-screen chemistry and off-screen friendship have fans excited to see them together in Clea’s feature directorial debut, The Intervention.

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Clea and Melanie met before shooting But I’m a Cheerleader together, and they know each other so well now that they finish each other’s sentences.

“We hung out one night,” Melanie said.

“On Halloween,” Clea added.

“On Halloween, yes. That’s our anniversary. So we had hung out that one night and I knew [Clea], but I lived in London at the time, so we didn’t hang out that often.”

“But then we made But I’m a Cheerleader that December. And it’s been non-stop the last 40 years,” she joked.

The Intervention is an ensemble film about a group of college friends who reconvene for a weekend in Savannah, Georgia. Jessie (Clea) and Sarah (Natasha) are a couple who don’t yet live together, while Annie (Melanie) is stalling her wedding with fiancee Matt (Jason Ritter). Annie is also a recovering alcoholic and intent on staging an intervention with unhappily married friends Peter (Vincent Piazza) and Ruby (Cobie Smulders). She’s dismayed when Jack (Ben Schwartz) brings along new young lover, Lola (Alia Shawkat) to join the party, and focuses her attention on anyone but herself and the true feelings she’s having about her relationship and future.

“I wrote the part for Melanie, she was the only person I was thinking of when I was writing it,” Clea said.

WireImage Portrait Studio Hosted By Eddie Bauer At Village at the Lift - Day 5 Photo by Randy Shropshire/WireImage

Melanie said she felt honored that Clea thought of her for such an important career move, her first time writing and directing a feature.

“I knew that Clea thought it was funny when I pretended to be drunk, which is always fun; always fun for me,” Melanie said. “So I was like ‘Oh my god, it’s a whole movie where I’m drunk.’ But I felt really special, honestly. I felt very moved by it the first time I read it. I was like ‘Oh my God, she trusts me with this. Yu know, this has been a dream of Clea’s for a really long time to be a writer and a director and to give me–first of all, she wrote the greatest part so it’s an amazing opportunity for me. But also, to just trust me to do a good job with this thing, like your first time doing something that means a lot to you, felt really so, so, so lucky.”

Clea has directed music videos and other short projects before, but says The Intervention was the first movie she’s written with “the intention of trying to have it produced.” 

“It was weird because I was writing a character for myself, but I wasn’t really thinking about actually having to play the character,” Clea said.  “The script sort of took on a life of its own, and I was thinking way more about everybody else’s characters and making sure they were solid because I knew that I would just show up, and I knew everything in my head. So it didn’t need as much attention. But then it was a lot harder than I thought, playing a character close to myself with my real life best friends. It was really more challenging than you think. It’s almost easier to play something far way from yourself with a bunch of strangers. It’s less vulnerable.”

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